Neil Hamilton – Former MP, Barrister, Broadcaster and After-Dinner Speaker
Neil Hamilton was born 1949 in Wales. His father was a mining engineer who moved to Ammanford with the National Coal Board in the 1950s and Hamilton was brought up there, being educated at Amman Valley Grammar School. Next he went on to Aberystwyth University to study Economics and later obtained a law degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, becoming a barrister in 1979.
In 1983, Neil Hamilton was elected Member of Parliament for the Cheshire Constituency of Tatton, (then) a safe Tory seat. He had quickly risen through the ranks to become a government whip and corporate affairs minister.
Neil Hamilton’s name first came to public attention over the so-called ‘cash for questions’ scandal in the House of Commons. Neil subsequently went to court to try to salvage his reputation, but lost his case and failed to throw off accusations of ‘Tory sleaze’
The former MP had wanted to clear his name of accusations that he had accepted envelopes stuffed with cash from Harrods boss Mohamed Al Fayed in exchange for asking parliamentary questions. The allegations effectively ended his ministerial career and he was forced to resign in 1994 from his post as a junior minister in the Department of Trade and Industry.
In 1997 an official parliamentary inquiry concluded that he had been guilty and that the evidence that Neil Hamilton had taken cash from Al Fayed for asking questions was said to be ‘compelling’. The amounts involved were said to be in the region of £25,000.
In the 1997 General Election, Neil Hamilton lost his parliamentary seat to Independent candidate and former BBC journalist, Martin Bell – whom he had scornfully dubbed ‘the Man in the White Suit’
Eventually, Neil was declared bankrupt, and the Old Rectory, their home at Nether Alderley, was put up for sale.
Both Neil and Christine Hamilton are a sought-after regulars on the after dinner speaker circuit. Neil has addressed numerous audiences – from intimate dinners to large corporate conferences.
Neil Hamilton has been The Spectator’s Parliamentary Wit of the Year and regularly writes for leading newspapers and magazines on current affairs – with a barbed wit.
He has appeared on many TV and radio shows – from the Louis Theroux documentary and Panorama to Have I Got News for You and Celebrity Who Want’s To Be A Millionaire. His Newsnight, interview with Jeremy Paxman and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger was Interview of the Year in 1996.
As a former economist, barrister and MP his experiences in law, economics and politics have made him a master of the jargon.